The Joy of Cooking Methods

I was quite inspired by a talk by Ron Wakkary of Simon Fraser University. Although his comment was about tutorials for DIY projects such as Instructables, I found it useful to see my user research methods from that perspective as well.

A cookbook is an integral part of cooking. Recipes follow a clear structure which has evolved over years and years of practice, giving it quality. DIY tutorials have not gone through that evolution yet, and there are no clear guidelines on how a tutorial is set up. This makes them sometimes very hard to follow and impossible to compare – Ron Wakkary, October 22 2013, Eindhoven

So I asked him afterwards, if their research had produced some criteria that make a recipe ‘good quality’, and if these criteria could be applied to tutorials. Of course I am also thinking that if there is a set of rules to follow that produces easy-to-follow recipes and DIY tutorials, they must have some positive impact on the description of user research methods. Ron said:

The best structure of a recipe is perhaps shown in ‘The Joy of Cooking‘ cookbook. It starts with the ingredients. You need to know how much output will be generated. The ingredients are ordered in such a way, that by just reading that list you can almost know how you should make it. The recipe mentions how much time each part will take. What the sequence of actions is, how to source materials. It is almost like programming. It also has to do with understanding what tools are available in a standard kitchen. For example, old cookbooks often start with a chapter on what utensils should be in your kitchen – Ron Wakkary, October 22 2013, Eindhoven

Naturally I am going to use these insights to improve the way the methods in my toolbox are structured. And my idea of a ‘user research cookbook’ also popped back up. But perhaps the biggest impact of these ‘rules’ will be to guide the users of the toolbox, when they add their own new methods, in such a way that they are easy to follow for others.

And of course now I will have to buy the The Joy of Cooking!

Let Me Make You a Free Custom User Research Method


Please follow this link to request a custom User Research method via email.

Requesting a custom method via the above link would help me develop the Inclusive Design Toolbox. You will be asked some questions about your project so I can pick the best research method for you, and your target users. Each method will be hand made, so I can learn what aspects are universal and how this process can be automated.

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Second Toolbox Review: an IT-Company and the Co-Design Café

A while ago, I had an interview with an IT-company. A few weeks later I went back with my new methods cardset and some improved ideas, as I was wondering what the director of that company would think.

foto co-design cafe_2

Just before that, I attended the latest Co-Design Café session at Capital D, a monthly meeting where designers and design-researchers exchange knowledge and experiences with co-design, where I also had the chance to discuss my methods cardset.  Continue reading

Depository of Extraordinary User Research Methods and some Indispensable Ones

A living collection of user research methods that sound like fun and make you want to get up and do them.

Technology Tea Party

tea party

Technology Tea Party is conducted in settings appropriate to the participant group, for example in community centres for elderly. Emphasis is placed on making the setting informal and relaxed with locations being selected based on participants’ ability and willingness to travel. Tea parties begin with a discussion, followed by interaction with technology probes and a final discussion over tea and cakes. The provision of tea and cake helps to create the desired informality, and seems to encourage participants to express their real opinions, rather than providing socially acceptable responses.

Tea parties are audio recorded, transcribed and analysed using template analysis to identify themes. Demographic information is collected using questionnaires.

Continue reading

The Chronic Sleep Reduction Questionnaire – Review

DEWALD, J. F., SHORT, M. A., GRADISAR, M., OORT, F. J. and MEIJER, A. M. (2012), The Chronic Sleep Reduction Questionnaire (CSRQ): a cross-cultural comparison and validation in Dutch and Australian adolescents. Journal of Sleep Research, 21: 584–594. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.2012.00999.x

Through the use of the Chronic Sleep Reduction Questionnaire (CSRQ), the researchers try to assess symptoms of chronic sleep reduction in adolescents. While this paper is mostly about validating this approach, the information is very useful to see how such experiments are set up, and their conclusions. Also the questionnaire itself can be a useful tool in further research. Continue reading